Not What I Was Working On


This was not the post that was supposed to go first … but it would be wrong to not write it.

I was working on a very different post several mornings ago. The day started out like many others. This time, it was in a parking lot of a casino resort in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Not that the place mattered.

Shortly after the dogs had their breakfast, we got the first inkling that “the day” had come for our “lump of love”. Ginger, the ancient queen, was having some sort of “event”. She was struggling to stand, trembling, couldn’t walk for periods, and was uncomfortable or worse.

We’ve been through the loss of too many beloved companions but it is never easy to know when it is time. We held on to Charlie too long. He knew it was time to go, but we held on to him because we weren’t ready. Only when he demanded to go outside in the rain to go lay under a tree did we surrender and take him in. But this time, with Ginger, we weren’t in denial. Neither of us really expected to return to Texas in the fall with three dogs. The writing has been on the wall for a while that Ginger was in decline, but she continued to eagerly participate in the usual highlights of a dog’s day: eating and going for walks, which, in Ginger’s case was actually going for rides in the jogger, but she quickly loaded up in anticipation of getting a cookie for her effort.

After some discussion, we headed on towards Durango, Colorado with Laura monitoring the old girl. After a couple of hours, we pulled over for a comfort break. We lifted Ginger and it was clear. She declined food. Human food. She tried to stand to do her business, but wasn’t successful. She lay peacefully on the ground, still stoic, but we had a sense that systems were shutting down. She no longer responded to us, even with her bigger-than-big eyes.

The decision was made that Durango was too far. The next community of any size with a vet available will have to do… we don’t want to prolong her suffering. Laura found a hospital in Farmington, New Mexico. The staff was terrific, even if the circumstances weren’t. Ginger left us. The grief hasn’t.

Having two dogs will be so much easier. In addition to not being able to go for walks, other than in the jogger, Ginger had also been deaf for the past several months. We developed some gesture-based commands that she responded to, but you couldn’t just call her… well you could, and we did ‘cause we’d forget… but it didn’t do any good. She had to see you with her one good eye. She took more pills than the rest of the family combined and her medical conditions caused a great deal of worry. Like I said, having two dogs is going to be so much easier, but right now, it really isn’t. Someone is missing. Someone larger than life. Ginger had a presence that people responded to. So did dogs. Never once did we see another dog respond aggressively to her. We called her “our Ambassador” because of her way of approaching strange dogs that put them at ease. She was a special girl.

We have and will continue on, but our lives are less for her loss.

5 thoughts on “Not What I Was Working On

  1. Warren

    Losing a pet is never easy. As you know we just have to enjoy them while they are here.
    People that do not have pets do not understand the joy we get from them or why we mourn their loss.

  2. Laura

    Thanks, Warren. Many folks commented on facebook (including you) and I appreciate it. But facebook comes and facebook goes. This site is more of an archived scrapbook for us. I know you know how much our animals mean to us. Say “hi” to Frisco from his half-sister (and look-alike) Dottie 🙂

  3. Jocelyn Treut

    I like your new website. I can type a little now that the tears have cleared up some. Yesterday I was out near Fredricksburg with high school friends from 9:30 am till midnight. I left Gretel in her little fabric kennel thinking I was only going to be gone till early evening. While eating dinner my friend told me she had just lost her dog right before her Brother died. She said she didn’t want to talk about it but ended up going into details. I become more anxious thinking about leaving Gretel so long and I was without my car or my phone. When I finally got back to my car I flew home watching for deer. When I got there she was happy to see me and very hungry and of course her kennel was soaked. I felt like a really bad Mom. I knew she had probably been barking for half the day. In fact she was just now barking in her sleep, probably a nightmare of yesterday. Gretel was never a barker till after Kaylee died two years ago. It was then she got her voice and her time.
    I spent more time with her this morning watching the birds and having morning coffee together. She was really enjoying her Mommy time, ears and back rub.
    Right now she seems good except that yucky nose. She’s eating again and regaining some strength.
    You just never know when it will be over. Ginger and Gretel seemed the same in going up and down with their health. Little Gretel quits eating and becomes very weak, which she did when Kristina was here. Then it seems she tries to get better again for me. I don’t know how much longer this will go on.
    I loved your slide show!

  4. Barbara

    What a wonderful photo tribute to Ginger. That face! Priceless, the depth of emotion that crossed it. So hard to lose a member of the family – even more so those who give…and give….and give…..just because they want to. She was very fortunate to have such loving caretakers while she was here with you on this earth. Thank you so much for sharing.

  5. Laura

    Joc, you are NOT a bad mom!!! Gretel is amazing. I don’t know when she will join Ginger but as the vet said to me this winter “you’re on borrowed time with her”. Both Ginger and Gretel lived good long lives, much loved by us. We try to make our peace with losing them while they are still alive and their long lives do make it less tragic when the time comes. But the loss is still there. I know this is how it will be for you too so. So hold your baby in your arms (like you always do) and think of Ginger and us. We’re thinking of you.

    Barb, thanks for your kind words. It’s true … Ginger’s sweet face, especially the way she looked at you, was priceless. Hard to imagine the time of her life before us when she went from shelter to rescue agency to foster home without a family to love her. It’s unfathomable and there had to be a story there that we’ll never know. We’re just thankful for the seven years she was a part of ours.

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